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Food Pic Friday ~ Carbonara December 13, 2013

Food pic Friday: Random photos of food or drinks I make or put together at home because for some reason I can’t eat out all the time

Carbonara

Carbonara

My boyfriend absolutely loves this dish (the cream version of course) but the authentic version does not contain cream (so I’ve read) so I decided to try out Tyler Florence’s recipe below. I did use pork jowl (guanciale) as well as pancetta just to be extra authentic and it was delicious!  I found guanciale at Tails and Trotters located at 525 NE 24th ave Portland Oregon.  This dish is rich and decadent yet simple if you have all your ingredients ready to go. I don’t think parsley is necessary but it does make it look pretty.

1 pound dry spaghetti
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta or slab bacon, cubed or sliced into small strips
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Directions
Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the spaghetti will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished; it is very important that the pasta is hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm (as they say in Italian “al dente.”) Drain the pasta well, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water to use in the sauce if you wish.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium flame. Add the pancetta and saute for about 3 minutes, until the bacon is crisp and the fat is rendered. Toss the garlic into the fat and saute for less than 1 minute to soften.

Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss for 2 minutes to coat the strands in the bacon fat. Beat the eggs and Parmesan together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg/cheese mixture into the pasta, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble (this is done off the heat to ensure this does not happen.) Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency. Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and taste for salt. Mound the spaghetti carbonara into warm serving bowls and garnish with chopped parsley.

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An Experience Like No Other ~ Genoa February 14, 2013

Simply amazing.

That pretty much sums up my experience at Genoa. The service and the food were impeccable and it definitely lived up to my expectations after reading so many positive reviews.

Genoa is known for special occasion dining, a place where people celebrate anniversaries, birthdays and such. They offer a 5 course prix fixe meal for $65 and the average dining time is somewhere between 2.5 to 3 hours so be ready for the time commitment. Don’t worry, it goes by fast especially if you are with someone you like! My Genoa occasion happened to be an anniversary and it didn’t feel like we were there as long as we were (just about 2.5 hours). The courses came steadily but you had time to digest a bit and talk about how amazing the dish was before the next one arrived. We practically had the place to ourselves because we dined on a Sunday night with only 2 other couples so it was nice and intimate. Our waiter was great. He took the time to explain the ingredients in each dish and was very attentive without being overly so.

On this particular night, the menu offered items I’ve never even heard of. Salsify? Uni butter? Thank goodness for google and my trust in the chef who did not disappoint. Our meal started with an amuse-bouche of beets with shaved smoked cod. A nice start to the evening  along with our cocktails (pear and prosecco for me and some strong madman drink for him).

Beets with Shaved Smoked Cod

Beets with Shaved Smoked Cod

Our primi course followed shortly after which was local salsify (a plant with an edible root), shaved beef tongue, horseradish crème fraîche and salsa verde. Incredible flavor and textures to keep each bite different yet always delicious. The tongue was rich and very beefy tasting, which  surprised me because I thought it would be a bit milder than it was.

Lingua di manzo e scorzobianca

Lingua di manzo e scorzobianca

Our primi course was a house made pasta with braised pork cheeks and mascarpone filling tossed in uni butter. Seriously one of the best dishes I’ve ever eaten. It just melted in my mouth and it was light yet rich in flavor and I could have easily eaten another plate of it.

Agnolotti di maiale

Agnolotti di maiale

The insalata course was next and consisted of dungeness crab, satsuma, compressed endive and vanilla oil. Mad genius stuff going on here. I wouldn’t even think to put these ingredients together and it was divine.  When the plate arrived, I  could immediately smell the seafood and it was so fresh and we both took a moment to breathe in the scent before taking a bite.

Granchio e ararcia

Granchio e ararcia

For our secondi course I chose the roasted squab, balsamic sunchokes, pickled apple and brown butter sunchoke purée and the boyfriend selected the pan seared elk loin, braised and charred leeks, broken potatoes and ash. Neither one of us had eaten squab or elk so we were both very pleased with our main dishes. The squab (pigeon and dove family) reminded me  of well, chicken but the darker of the meat portion with an earthier taste.

Alce scottato (Elk)

Alce scottato (Elk)

 Piccioncino (Squab)

Piccioncino (Squab)

To end our meal we both ordered dessert and for the life of me I have no idea what he ordered even though I took pictures of it so I will only include mine which was a meyer lemon butter cake, sorbetto and satsumas. The cake was rich and buttery and the sorbetto was a tangy contrast to the sweetness of the satsumas and sauce. They also gave us salted truffles and a soft almond cookie to end the evening and both were delicious.

Meyer Lemon Butter Cake

Meyer Lemon Butter Cake

Truffles and Almond Cookies

Truffles and Almond Cookies

So was it worth the money? Yes!!It’s a food experience and unlike anything you’ll come across during a normal night out for dinner. Their menu changes weekly so it will always be a unique offering and if you are love food and trying new things then you must eat here one day. Worth every penny.

Genoa on Urbanspoon

 

Hello Lardo! August 30, 2012

Ok, I have to share my dinner last night.  Sometimes, the bf and I like to dine “tapas style” and just eat little bits of all kinds of goodness.   I happened to be in the Hawthorne area so I dropped by Pastaworks for all the fixings.  Well, almost all of it.  I left the bread at work by accident (grrr from Pearl bakery no less) so we had to make a trip to Trader Joe’s for that.

As I entered, I was greeted by a deli case of meat and was a bit mesmerized and overwhelmed by it all.  I did happen to notice the lardo sitting right in the front and knew I had to try it because it is such a ridiculous food item that I was compelled to buy it.  Lardo is essentially cured strips of fatback seasoned with herbs and spices.  Pure fat!!! The gentleman at the counter suggested 5 strips per person and to simply schmear it on bread.  We tried it with that, wrapped around the meats and also with the cheese and it was really good.  Not something that should be eaten on a regular basis and by all means, don’t tell your doctor about it.  Don’t let the $25 a pound price tag scare you either because the cost of my portion was under $2.   I also picked up 3 different kinds of cured meat: Fra’Mani sopressata, a Venetian Abruzzo and a Citterio spicy sopressata to round out the meat section for about $5.50.

Next up was the cheese counter.  I picked up some “piave vecchio”  cheese recommended by the staff to go along with my cured meats.  It’s has a nice sweet and nutty flavor and the taste reminds me a bit of Parmigiano Reggiano.  A great hard cheese for salads, fruits and appetizers.   It’s about $25 a pound but well worth the small block I purchased for $8.  The nice lady also helped me pick up some sardines from Italy (her favorite being a tomato based “pomodoro” one) which was delicious.  Now I have to admit, I splurged a bit on this one.  I remember Anthony Bourdain eating some during an episode of  “No Reservations” filmed in Spain and he couldn’t get over the difference from sardines typically sold in American supermarkets.   I had to at least try it even though it was an Italian brand because I had a feeling that I wasn’t going to be disappointed.  The small tin was super delicious and was  just under $7.  (Like I said, it was a splurge).

Lastly, I got a nice farro salad because I felt a vegetable was needed (kale, pine nuts, vinegar based dressing, cranberries and other healthy things) and then my eyes focused on the white fish spread.  I’ve had a trout spread at The Observatory restaurant and loved it so I inquired about it and the staff told me it is was the whipped cream of the sea.  How could I pass that up!  And for under $2 it was a generous portion that we still have leftovers of.  Also fantastic!

I clearly remember walking out of the store with my little bag of groceries weighing next to nothing and paying just over $30 for it all.  Oh well, well worth the money for sure and a nice treat for a random weekday dinner.

Website: http://pastaworks.com/

Locations: Currently 3: Hawthorne, Mississippi and NW Portland

Pastaworks on Urbanspoon

 

Wild Abandon ~ Goat Cheese Torta and Ziti Ziti December 22, 2011

This restaurant’s exterior is pretty nondescript.  There is nothing fancy about it and I wondered if I was even at the right place the first time I went there.    The entrance can be partially obscured by trees. I know the first time I pulled into the parking lot I was having second thoughts on whether or not to go in.  Silly me.  It’s not what’s on the outside that matters right?  Located on the bustling street of Belmont, Wild Abandon can easily be missed if you are not looking for it.  Once inside it is a cozy space that may remind you of a 70’s /80’s basement.  The different colored lights that hang from the ceiling will make you reminisce about which friend’s house growing up had that exact light.  The fake “fountain” light brought back memories of family parties we had since most Asian households had a version of one in their house.  My house of course didn’t, only because it would have probably clashed with the ones made out of shells.  Grrr.

Anyways, back to the food….I highly recommend eating it on the outside patio after the rainy season ends as it’s a nice space to enjoy a meal.  I’ve eaten here a few times and I always order the goat cheese torta as an appetizer.  It comes with grilled bread and the spread consists of goat cheese (duh), sun-dried tomato and pesto with roasted whole garlic cloves (yum), olive oil and balsamic reduction.  Everyone I’ve shared this with loved it and it’s a great start to your main meal. 

Goat cheese torta

 

On this particular evening, I decided to share a pasta dish with a friend and we opted for the Ziti Ziti dish.   The pasta is served in a rich smoked mozzarella cheese sauce with mushrooms, roasted garlic, and scallops (veggie option available) then topped with bread crumbs and baked to a golden brown.  We were deciding between this dish and the butternut sage risotto and the staff told us the ziti was the most popular dish and recommended that for us.  We were definitely not disappointed.  It was more than enough to share (especially since our cheese intake for that day exceeded anyone’s recommended amount) and even though we were getting full, we kept going in for more which is always a good sign.  The staff person was super friendly and helpful.  I’ve never had terrible service here but he was exceptionally nice that night which always makes the eating experience that much better. 

 

Cheese-tastic

Address: 2411 Southeast Belmont Street Portland, OR 97214 (503) 232-4458

Website: http://www.wildabandonrestaurant.com/

Cost: Torta – $11.50 (Dinner menu)  $8 (Happy Hour)

             Ziti Ziti – $19 w/ scallops; $13 vegetarian

 

Brunch at DiPrima Dolci May 6, 2011

Filed under: Breakfast/Brunch,Food,Lunch,My Favs — Food Freaks Unite @ 4:20 pm
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Frittata

My Order: Frittata: An Italian-style baked omelet served with roasted potatoes, bread and fruit.

I first discovered this family owned establishment in my pursuit for great cannoli but after closer examination of their menu, I realized they had some great savory options to choose from so I decided to try them out one morning.  My brunch choice was their frittata and I picked spinach and feta for my filling.  I was not disappointed as the portion size was generous and the potatoes were delicious.  You can taste the homemade goodness here and I’m sure the bread on my plate was made that morning.  Don’t forget to order a cannoli! I managed to eat mine before my meal even got to the table as it goes really well with espresso 🙂

Location: DiPrima Dolci (1936 N. Killingsworth St, Portland Oregon) 

Cost: $9

DiPrima Dolci on Urbanspoon

 

Lunch at DiPrima Dolci ~ Spinach Pine Nut Feta Torta January 8, 2011

Filed under: Food,Lunch,My Favs — Food Freaks Unite @ 4:20 pm
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Mangia!

 

My Order: Spinach-Pinenut-Feta Torta: A savory pie baked with spinach, eggs, cream, feta cheese and pine nuts in a flaky crust.  Served with bread and fagioli salad. 

You must like cream and butter in order to enjoy this dish.  I don’t even want to know how much of each ingredient they use because it’s more than is needed in anyone’s daily dietary fat intake.  Once you start eating though you probably won’t even care about such things. The crust is melt in your mouth flaky and buttery and the pine nuts were a nice touch for added texture. What I really liked was the fagioli salad, pronounced fah-zhoo-lee,  which is the Italian word for beans, typically white beans.  Their version had fennel seed (which tastes nothing like fennel) and their addition of red onions and celery added a nice crunch to it. 

FYI…the owner has since changed the salad option and currently does not have this one available (as of Jan 2011) but I imagine she rotates the choices often enough so the fagioli may find its way back on the menu very soon. 

Website: http://www.diprimadolci.com/

Location: DiPrima Dolci 1936 N. Killingsworth, Portland Oregon

Cost: ??? I forgot exactly but somewhere between $7-10

DiPrima Dolci on Urbanspoon